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Safety Award For Excellence (SAFE) Hall of Fame

The Safety Award For Excellence (SAFE) celebrates individuals and work groups who excel in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

Find out who's making UC San Diego a SAFE place to work...

List of Safety Award For Excellence Recipients


Joe Stagg
Undergraduate Biology Laboratories
Outstanding Individual

Joe is recognized for his high regard for safety and his consistent efforts to communicate safety to a diverse and ever-changing group of student, staff, and faculty. As the Area Safety Contact for the Undergraduate Biology Laboratories, Joe is responsible for safety for one of the largest areas covered by a single audit. Joe’s consistent dedication to safety advocacy and raising awareness of safety practices and policies in the Division of Biological Sciences’ teaching laboratories over the years is outstanding.


Lab Manager Rita Carrillo Aguilar
Outstanding Individual

Rita has risen through the ranks at UC San Diego to become a dependable resource for many labs in Stein. She serves as a shining example of how an individual’s efforts can affect the workplace for everyone. Specifically, Rita has helped to successfully transform the safety culture of Stein's 3rd floor by clearing egress and focusing resources in order to make the environment a safer place to work. Building occupants, custodians, and emergency personnel can now more freely access all parts of the floor in case of an emergency. 

AVC Mark Cunningham

Assistant Vice Chancellor Mark Cunningham
Outstanding Individual

He's relentless! Assistant Vice Chancellor Cunningham has devoted his career and boundless energy to keeping his residents, staff, and the UC San Diego community safe and secure. To mention just a few major accomplishments to his credit, AVC Cunningham implemented residential housing fire sprinkler and alarm retrofits, facilitated a collaborative HDH safety committee of labor and management groups, and initiated a “Shoes for Crews” program for HDH workers.

Dr. Haim Weizman

Dr. Haim Weizman
Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
Outstanding Individual

Dr. Weizman has been diligent in the implementation of laboratory workplace safe practices. Most notable are the lab safety videos he produced and posted on the Internet that are used by all the UC campuses to train young researchers to work safely.

Laurie McHugh

Laurie McHugh
Systems Programmer, ACT-IT Infrastructure
Outstanding Individual

A Department Safety Coordinator for over 12 years, Ms. McHugh has been a determined advocate for safety, diligent in the implementation of workplace safe practices. Laurie took the initiative to conduct required monthly fire extinguisher checks and developed a building evacuation procedure for her department.

Mike Griffith

Mike Griffith
Facilities Management, Assistant Director
Outstanding Individual

As chair of FM's Safety Committee, Mr. Griffith took the initiative to improve the work safety protocol for FM's confined space and lockout/tagout programs. By diligently implementing safety training and safe work practices, Mike's been instrumental in reducing the frequency and severity of FM’s Workers’ Compensation claims for 2009. The number of claims was reduced by 29% resulting in a savings of $185,000.


Robert Hernandez
Facilities Management, Landscape Services
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Hernandez championed implementation of UC San Diego's Hearing Conservation Program for landscape employees who use an array of noisy equipment daily. Mr. Hernandez ensures LS employees receive and are trained to use hearing protection equipment, have an annual audiogram, and monitors their results. Sharing his personal experiences and challenges with hearing loss reinforces the importance of using hearing protection when operating loud equipment.

Moores Cancer Center safety committee
Moores Cancer Center safety committee

Moores Cancer Center Safety Committee:
Salvatore Chiappe, Marcia Diamond, David Simonson, Michael Rosenbach, Joseph Aguilera, and Ira Goodman

Outstanding Work Group

Moores Cancer Center Safety Committee coordinates with many diverse groups in the Cancer Center to correct safety issues, deliver safety training, and adopt health and safety policies and procedures for common operational concerns. Among numerous other planning and implementation accomplishments, the Committee supported a satellite office for the smoking cessation group and distributed wallet-sized emergency evacuation procedures and emergency phone numbers to over 200 research employees.

Kevin Messey

Kevin Messey
Intercollegiate Athletics
Outstanding Individual

Athletic trainer Kevin Messey raised medical emergency response skills training for IA trainers and coaching staff to a higher standard with procedures for handling MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) outbreaks, and providing certified CPR, First Aid, and AED training. Mr. Messey collaborated with EH&S Risk Management to learn about secondary insurance coverage for student athletic events.

Pedro Cruz

Pedro Cruz
Academic Computing Services
Outstanding Individual

Pedro Cruz champions loss prevention and security in 130 campus computer labs, proper disposal of computer equipment to protect the environment, encourages the department's busy electric cart drivers to participate in driver safety training, and coordinates a network of safety leaders throughout the department.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens
Bookstore Distribution Center
Outstanding Individual

Michael Stevens' safety leadership at the Bookstore Trade St. location includes administrative, distribution, and staff employees. Promoting proper use of personal protective equipment, tools, and equipment to reduce injuries, and focusing on workplace inspections to identify and remove possible hazards are part of his winning focus on safety.

Transit Operations team

Danny Alvarado, Chuck Quisenberry, and Don Riddle
Transit Operations Division, Transportation & Parking Services
Outstanding Work Group

UC San Diego’s Transit Operations team steered their staff to new levels of safety. Improved operational procedures include a new protocol for backing vehicles in the service yard that's reduced collisions, and implementation of Red Card procedures for UC San Diego transit vehicle drivers during emergencies. Red Card instructions cover natural and manmade events to ensure passenger, driver, and vehicle safety.

Carolyn Guajardo

Carolyn Guajardo, Animal Care Program
Outstanding Individual

As training coordinator for the Animal Care Program, Ms. Guajardo helps UC San Diego comply with a plethora of laws and regulations by increasing safety education and awareness for vivarium workers. Her strategy: continuously assess participant understanding and feedback to build effective training sessions. Her enthusiastic efforts encourage workers in the challenging animal care environment to participate in safety programs.

General Clinical Research Center Core Laboratory

Dr. Joel Dimsdale, Barbara Woods, Dr. Paul Mills, and Chris Pruitt of the General Clinical Research Center Core Laboratory (aka the Mills Lab), Department of Psychiatry
Outstanding Work Group

So many environment, health, and safety accomplishments commend the Mills Lab. To name a few: The Mills Lab consistently maintains an award-winning safety program that achieves no-issue safety audits; they're proactively reducing ergonomic risks and repetitive strain injuries at both computer and lab workstations; and they're looking for ways to turn their lab “green”, including reducing energy consumption. Congratulations to the Mills Lab!

Janette Holtz

Janette Holtz, Pasquinelli Lab, Division of Biological Sciences
Outstanding Individual

Ms. Holtz' coworkers believe her personal attention, advocacy, and leadership are key to her success managing the growing lab's safety program over the last 4 years. Perfect safety audit scores, effective hazardous materials management, safety orientation for new lab workers and non-research employees who enter the lab, ongoing safety training for continuing workers, and actively working to keep Bonner Hall common rooms safe, functional, and clean is the work of a winner!

Brian Busch and Chris Kennedy

Brian Busch and Chris Kennedy, Mandell Weiss Theatre Paint Shop
Outstanding Work Group

Loud noise and airborne particulates from machinery used in the Paint Shop to produce props and scenery posed a risk to workers' hearing and respiratory systems. Mr. Busch and Mr. Kennedy introduced engineering and administrative controls and personal protective equipment to protect worker health. Their efforts to reduce risk have made the Paint Shop a safer place to work.

Charles Abadie
Brandon Austin
Tyler Sutterley

Aquatics Lifeguards: Brandon Austin, Charles Abadie, and Tyler Sutterley, Recreations Department
Outstanding Work Group

Recreation Department lifeguards, Brandon Austin, Charles Abadie, and Tyler Sutterley were commended by paramedics for quick response and professional delivery of emergency skills during a pool emergency on February 8, 2008. Paramedics called to the scene specifically praised Austin, Abadie, and Sutterly for proficiency of skill and swift activation.

Approximately 120,000 individuals use the 3 campus pools each year – approximately 2,300 per week. The pools are open 114 hours per week. Over the past 9 years, EMS has been activated on an average of 1.2 times per year. The Recreation Department’s commitment to preventative safety procedures and the extensive training lifeguard staff receive on an ongoing basis is a primary reason this number is low. Aquatics lifeguards are definitely taking an active role in making UC San Diego a SAFE place.

Ruth Patterson

Ruth Patterson, Housing & Dining Services
Outstanding Individual

Ms. Patterson places a winning emphasis on maintaining a consistently high quality workplace safety program. She's been instrumental in educating her colleagues about emergency procedures and improving the emergency supply containers in her area of H&DS.

Sheila Kennedy

Sheila Kennedy, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department
Outstanding Individual

As Safety Coordinator for the UC San Diego Undergraduate Laboratory and an analytical chemistry laboratory, Sheila Kennedy has steadfastly championed a culture of safety for students and employees. Outside the lab, Ms. Kennedy participates in the Campus Emergency Response Team program, benefiting the entire UC San Diego campus community.

Srikrishna Khandrika

Srikrishna Khandrika, General Clinical Research Center (GCRC)
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Khandrika consistently maintains an outstanding safety program for the General Clinical Research Center. Specific initiatives include improving the lab environment by disposing of old equipment and coordinating a fresh paint job and new lighting, reducing the chemical inventory, and organizing safety training records. National Institutes of Health inspectors gave the GCRC an "outstanding rating," thanks to the efforts of Mr. Khandrika.

Libraries Safety & Security Team (LSST)

Libraries Safety & Security Team (LSST)
Outstanding Work Group

Founded in the mid-1990s, LSST members are safety and emergency preparedness planners for the campus libraries. Among many challenges, planning safety and evacuation procedures for multiple buildings that receive over two million visitors annually and protection of valuable (and many irreplaceable) library collections stand out. Among their many accomplishments, the LSST is making sure library staff are trained to assist persons with disabilities during an emergency.

William Loomis and lab assistants

William Loomis and Wolfgang Junger, Hoyt Lab, Department of Surgery
(William Loomis, center, with young researchers in the Hoyt Lab. Dr. Junger was unable to attend.)
Outstanding Work Team

Consistently communicating a philosophy of laboratory safety is a challenge as Mr. Loomis and Dr. Junger train an ever changing staff of young researchers in the Hoyt Lab. They meet and exceed expectations with an "Injury Prevention Plan" that provides training on injury prevention and what to do in the event of a lab accident or injury. Mr. Loomis and Dr. Junger enthusiastically cultivate a safe research environment that benefits everyone at UC San Diego now, and will influence the future labs of our graduates.

MPL work group at Point Loma

Marine Physical Laboratory Work Group, Point Loma
With EH&S Director Steve Benedict at left, the MPL crew includes William Gaines, George Trekas, Frank Biegler, Norm Waters, Jerry Crum, Jerry Gardner, Christopher Boyd, Timothy Stoesz, Brian Wheeler, Tom Driscoll, Thomas Golfinos, Joe Hawkins, and Clifford Barbeau
Outstanding Work Group

The MPL team has the safety program EH&S strives to achieve with all our research and operations partners. The strength of their efforts was demonstrated during a recent San Diego County inspection in which no violations or negative comments were noted — particularly impressive considering reconditioning of ballast tanks for the SIO vessel FLIP was taking place. This difficult process carried significant EPA, OSHA, and Best Management Practice requirements. Their success demonstrates the overall philosophy of MPL to achieve a clean, safe, and sustainable work environment.

Anatomical Preparation & Medical Teaching Laboratories team

Anatomical Preparation & Medical Teaching Laboratories Work Group: Chris Hopkins, Lisa Krenzer, Shannon Davenport, Eric Wood, Richard Wilson, Lola Hernandez, and Mark Gary
(Team members Lisa Krenzer, Chris Hopkins, and Shannon Davenport are shown with EH&S Director Steve Benedict)
Outstanding Work Group

The School of Medicine's Anatomical Prep group has developed and refined an admirable safety program. In-house processes are continuously assessed and adjusted to achieve teaching and regulatory compliance goals. This creative team continues to find innovative solutions for integrating environment, health, and safety principles into a sensitive and essential medical teaching facility.

Gary Jones

Gary Jones, Facilities Maintenance East, Physical Plant Services
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Jones runs a crew of facility maintenance specialists with an excellent safety compliance record and a history of no serious work-related injuries. Proactive partnering with EH&S has been instrumental in preventing safety problems. Safety training and equipment are top priorities. His "work safe and smart" philosophy and positive attitude works wonders.

Grounds and Landscape Safety Committee

Grounds & Landscape Safety Committee, Facilities Management: Robert Hernandez, Richard Barajas, Christine Rasmussen, Steve Kastama, and Fernando Becker (not shown – Fernando Becker was serving in Kuwait when this photo was taken)
Outstanding Work Group

Ergonomically-designed tools and pruning guidelines that reduce repetitive motion injuries are prize-winning ideas implemented by the Grounds & Landscape Safety Committee. Their monthly safety meetings cover topics from chain saw safety to ear and eye protection to back injury prevention. Groundskeepers can use a new e-mail address established by the Committee to submit safety concerns or suggestions. Their efforts promote safe work practices, and it shows in reduced workers' compensation claims.

Arch Steele

Arch Steele, Radiology Department, UC San Diego Medical Center
Outstanding Individual

In addition to managing safety needs for a busy health care radiology group, Mr. Steele took on the added responsibility of tracking the department's exceptionally large number of dosimetry badges. Efficiently collecting old badges and distributing new ones, Mr. Steele consistently maintains a 98–100% return rate, ensuring expedient processing and monitoring of his coworkers' occupational exposures.

Bioengineering Safety Team

Bioengineering Safety Team: Doug Gurevitch, Beth Maples, and Loretta Smith
Outstanding Work Group

Recognizing the advantages of coordinating safety communications and efforts department-wide, Mr. Gurevitch, Ms. Maples, and Ms. Smith established a network of Bioengineering safety coordinators and building floor wardens, inviting participation in safety issues by all levels of the department. Their mutual support safety program is a great model for other UC San Diego groups.

Chris Kauffman

Chris Kauffman, Fenical Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Kauffman coordinates a safety program for over 20 researchers and six distinct labs distributed over two buildings on multiple floors. Continuously assessing and adjusting lab processes, he redistributed large quantities of flammable solvents to achieve a safer workplace and meet regulatory requirements, and daily manages large amounts of hazardous waste generated by the labs. Mr. Kauffman successfully integrates environment, health, and safety principles into research work and inspires others to do the same.

Grace Sousa

Grace Sousa, Bier Lab, Biological Sciences
Outstanding Individual

Addressing the safety needs of a busy lab is no easy endeavor. Grace Sousa took on the responsibility in spite of being new to the job. Ms. Sousa never hesitates to take advantage of EH&S services when she has lab safety questions or concerns. Her enthusiastic efforts have transformed the Bier Lab into a model of safety compliance and an example for others to follow.

Scott Richards

Scott Richards, Visual Arts Department
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Richards developed an in-house safety training program, cultivated a hazardous waste reduction program, and made the Visual Arts shops and studios code-compliant for use, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes such as paints and solvents. It's an awesome accomplishment given the quantities used in a large visual arts department.

Carol Sheehan

Carol Sheehan, Tebo/ Haygood Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Outstanding Individual

Ms. Sheehan redesigned in-house processes to make them safer and regulation-compliant, including: changing the lab’s large acid bath procedures and disposal, correcting and maintaining the radioactive isotope inventory, and developing a biohazardous waste program that has become a model for other labs.

Dr. Daniel Masys

Dr. Daniel Masys, School of Medicine
Outstanding Individual

With Dr. Masys' generous assistance, EH&S adapted his Web-based training software to bring convenient online Annual Hazardous Materials Refresher training to the campus. Dr. Masys' commitment to supporting, improving, and delivering safety training to UC San Diego employees far exceeded his own department's needs.

Annie Townsend

Annie Townsend, Museum Collections, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Outstanding Individual

When Ms. Townsend discovered a mold problem in the pelagic invertebrates collections, she embarked on a determined campaign to defeat it. Funding was secured, appropriate air conditioning equipment was installed, cleanup procedures were developed, and staff were trained to handle the sensitive decontamination work. Ms. Townsend's dedication to safety benefited her staff and fellow scientists, and secured the future of the largest research collection of its kind.

Professor Murray Goodman

Professor Murray Goodman, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
Outstanding Individual

As chair of UC San Diego's Health & Safety Coordinating Council, Dr. Goodman was instrumental in shaping practical and compliant environment, health, and safety policy for UC San Diego researchers. Professor Goodman’s own large research lab routinely faced a broad spectrum of challenges related to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, so he put a priority on integrating safety with the pursuit of research.

Joseph Taulane

Joseph Taulane, Goodman Lab, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
Outstanding Individual

Mr. Taulane acts decisively to correct safety problems, whether in the Goodman Lab or for the common good of the campus. His efforts benefited every occupant when he helped manage post-construction ventilation problems in Pacific Hall. Mr. Taulane assumed responsibility for a neighboring lab when a colleague faced a serious setback. Not only did he help a colleague in need, he provided EH&S with vital continuity for the lab, ensuring uninterrupted use of permitted materials.

Professor Jay Siegel

Professor Jay S. Siegel, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
Outstanding Individual

Lab safety innovator Professor Siegel keeps a ledger of accidents and incidents. The lessons learned benefit both his current and future lab workers. He takes a proactive approach to hazard communication. Reaction pathway diagrams for chemical reactions being conducted inside are posted in the corridors outside his lab doors, including associated hazards and the individuals responsible for each reaction. The information enables faster, safer response by emergency personnel, reducing risk to both people and property.

The SED and HR Information Systems team

Staff Education & Development (SED) and Information Systems team, Human Resources
Outstanding Work Group

SED and HR Information Systems, in collaboration with EH&S, successfully transitioned EH&S training into Enrollment Central, producing a great resource for everyone at UC San Diego. Safety program registration increased dramatically when EH&S training launched on Enrollment Central during summer 2002. Easy access to safety training will protect the UC San Diego community for years to come.

Russel King

Director Russel King, Mandeville Center
Outstanding Individual

Safety is a top priority at Mandeville Center. Director King has made an all-out effort to correct unsafe conditions, fortify Mandeville's safety program, and restructure the entire record-keeping system for safety training. Thanks to him, the Mandeville Center is a safer environment for both the public and employees.

Janelle Stricker, Wendy Bardwell, and Sara Meyers

Janelle Stricker, Wendy Bardwell, and Sarah Meyer, Chien Lab, Department of Medicine
Outstanding Work Group

Ms. Stricker, Ms. Bardwell, and Ms. Meyer worked as a team to implement new safety policies, ensure regulatory compliance in their area, and encourage their co-workers to take advantage of EH&S services and safety training. Their approach has resulted in very high lab safety audit scores and reflects a top-down support of health and safety issues.

For more information, contact Environment, Health & Safety, (858) 534-3660.